Lululemon Employees Take Stand at Trial

Women who work at Bethesda store described relationships with Murray and Norwood.

Lululemon employees took the stand Friday to describe their interactions with victim Jayna Murray and Brittany Norwood, the employee accused of killing her at the Bethesda store March 11.

One employee, Eila Rab, testified Norwood was a friend. The day of the murder, Rab testified she and Norwood had lunch together and got a manicure and pedicure. Rab also said she had socialized with Norwood the weekend before, but the prosecution stopped their line of questioning after the defense objected.

Another employee, Chioma Nwakibu, also saw Norwood March 11. She testified Norwood was wearing a different pair of pants that afternoon than the ones she wore in photographs taken when Norwood was discovered the following day, bound on a restroom floor.

Brittany Norwood stands accused of first-degree murder in the case and her trial is ongoing. Prosecutors have said Norwood killed co-worker Jayna Murray at the shop and to injure her, including a knife, a hammer, a wrench, a mannequin peg and a merchandise peg.

They say Murray had discovered Norwood attempting to steal from the store. Norwood staged the crime scene to make it appear as though the two women had been attacked and lied to police to cover up the crime, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors say Murray sustained at least 322 injuries, the majority of which occurred while she was still alive. One hundred seven of the injuries were defensive wounds, according to prosecutors.

Norwood's defense is attempting to prove Norwood "lost it" and killed Murray during a fight, but the prosecution is arguing Norwood lured Murray back to the store and pre-meditated the attack.

Nwakibu and Rab both showed their phone records in court. Rab said she received a call from Norwood the evening of the crime, asking for Murray's number because she had left her wallet in the store. Rab said she suggested Norwood call store manager Rachel Oertli — who lived in the Upstairs at Bethesda Row apartments directly across the street — but that Norwood asked for Murray's number because the two had just left the store.

Nwakibu said she received two calls from Murray the night of the crime. Prosecutors were barred from allowing Nwakibu to discuss the nature of the call because Judge Robert Greenberg said it could be considered heresay at a pre-trial hearing. Prosecutors have previously said Murray asked Nwakibu during the call whether she had sold a pair of pants to Norwood that Murray had discovered in her bag, and Nwakibu said she hadn't.

Prosecutors questioned both witnesses about the location of merchandise pegs, one of the objects they say Norwood used to injure Murray. Prosecutors attempted to show they were kept in only one location, and would not have been left lying around the store.

Norwood's defense questioned the employees about the various ways a merchandise peg may have been left out of place.

Patch is reporting live from the courthouse in Rockville. Stay tuned for updates.


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